ANAHEIM ― In eight games since he made his 2023 debut with the Angels, Mickey Moniak has displaced Taylor Ward as the leadoff hitter against right-handed pitchers, catalyzed the decision to designate outfielder Brett Phillips for assignment, and maintained a ridiculous .417 batting average.
Until this weekend’s series against the Minnesota Twins, however, he had not produced a big hit at a critical juncture in a game. Now he has two.
Moniak’s two-run double in the seventh inning of a tie game lifted the Angels to an eventual 3-2 victory before an announced crowd of 42,138 at Angel Stadium.
The Twins replaced starter Pablo Lopez with reliever Jorge Lopez, who promptly walked Matt Thaiss to begin the seventh inning. The next batter, Zach Neto, shot a double into right field, sending Thaiss to third base.
That brought up Moniak, a left-handed hitter. After watching two straight curveballs that were called balls, Moniak clobbered a fastball over the plate into the right-center field gap. Thaiss and Neto both scored, and the Angels had a 3-1 advantage.
A home run by Alex Kiriloff in the eighth inning against Matt Moore brought the Twins within 3-2. But the Angels got the run back in the bottom of the inning.
Gio Urshela singled, stole second base, and advanced to third when catcher Ryan Jeffers’ throw to second was off-line and skipped into center field. Thaiss hit a line drive into the left-field corner that allowed Urshela to score easily, giving the Angels a 4-2 lead.
Shohei Ohtani was impressive in his sixth start of the season, allowing just two hits and one run over six innings. But he was forced to settle for a no-decision because Pablo Lopez was every bit his equal.
Ohtani only fell behind 2-and-0 once, when he ultimately walked Joey Gallo in the third inning. The next batter, Carlos Correa, drove in Gallo with a double, giving Minnesota an early 1-0 lead.
Ohtani had no trouble inducing swings and misses; his 22 (on 99 total pitches) were a season-high. He is 5-1 with a 3.05 ERA this season. In four no-decisions, Ohtani has a 2.84 ERA with 35 strikeouts and only eight hits allowed across 19 innings.
At the plate, Ohtani went 1 for 3 with a single and drew the only intentional walk of the game.
The Angels’ only run against Pablo Lopez came in the fourth inning. Hunter Renfroe and Jared Walsh led off with back-to-back singles. For Walsh, it was his first hit of the season, after returning from headaches and insomnia the day before.
A sacrifice fly by the next batter, Urshela, drove in Renfroe to tie the game 1-1.
Reyes Moronta was the first pitcher out of the bullpen, but he bequeathed a bases-loaded, two-out situation to Chris Devenski (2-0).
Devenski then struck out Gallo, the only batter he faced, to end the inning.
The Angels (25-23) took two of the three games from the Twins (26-21). Moniak had one of the big hits in Friday’s win, a game-tying RBI triple to score Neto in the seventh inning.
More to come on this story.
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